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The Pencil Grip, Inc. has become one of our favorite vendors. We had the opportunity recently to review some items from them, The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. My kids have tried one of their pencil grips before and wanted to try this kit, and the scissors were intriguing!
The items in this review were fun for my kids to try out, but they felt the items were too juvenile for all but my youngest. My oldest, M, was glad to help with this review though... she obtained permission from a family that she babysits for to try these out with their children. She used the camera on a very old phone, so many of these pictures aren't very clear but I think you'll still get a good idea of how these products work! Also, much thanks to this family for their help!
The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit:
This set of three grips is soft and squishy and very comfortable to hold. Because of the squishiness, they don't slip off the pencil. They are latex and phthalate free. The way these grips work is that they progressively teach the proper way to hold a pencil. They are not just for kids, they can be used by adults too as needed! The grips have letters indicating where the thumb should go, for both left and right hand.
The Step 1 grip is called The Crossover Grip. It has a wide area that covers the fingers, called the "super hero cape", and prevents the finger and thumb from slipping forward and across each other.
The Step 2 grip is called The Pinch Grip. It looses the cape, but retains a thick part to pinch, thus allowing the individual to see the proper way to hold a pencil or pen.
The Step 3 grip is called The Pencil Grip Original. This one has indentations where the fingers should go, and feels quite nice in the hand.
My children tried all of the grips out, using each one many times to get a feel for what they preferred. Since my kids are a bit older, they all preferred the Step 3 grip. However, my 1st grader sometimes lets her pointer finger slip in front of the pencil as she writes, so she has been using the Step 1 grip frequently. It helps her relax her grip so those fingers don't slip!
The youngest child to try these out is a toddler. She's so young that she's still learning how to hold a pencil, so the Step 1 grip was best for helping her keep her fingers in the correct place. She thought these grips were so much fun, she didn't want to put them away!
M also got to observe how a preschooler used the grips. He grips a pencil with two fingers and thumb, almost like a half fist, so these were a little frustrating at first. But with some guidance he found these very easy to use and he liked using them. I was pretty impressed with his grip on the red pencil above.. that's a nice hold!
M would like you to know that all of the grips were easy for a left handed child to use. The Step 3 grip was a little difficult for her to hold, but I think that's completely normal at this age. I had to help my right handed first grader place her fingers on this one correctly too.
The Pencil Grip, Inc. has a poster that helps you visualize what a correct grip should look like, this is available as a free download on the website.
If used correctly and consistently, these can help develop a better grip when writing. The children who helped us for this review, in my family and in our friend's family, showed some great examples of what is a normal progression for learning to hold a pencil correctly. Some children felt that the grips were large, but this seemed to be an indication that the grip was forcing the fingers into a different position than the child was used to. This set of pencil grips would be a great tool to help any child obtain a correct grip starting at a young age.
The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors:
These are intended for ages 3 and up. We quickly nicknamed them "the pelican" because there is a plastic safety shield that covers the lower blade. These scissors are not dull like many other safety scissors are, they are nice and sharp! But because of the protective shield, children cannot cut themselves. The moving blade is shorter than the fixed blade, so you can't even pinch a tiny bit of skin in the end of the scissors.
One thing I really like about them is the yellow spring. In the first picture below, this spring is disengaged. But when you flip it the other way (second picture), it pushes the scissors back open once they have been squeezed closed. I remember watching my children as toddlers and their hands would tire while using scissors. Sometimes they'd even take their fingers out of the handle, open the blade with two hands, and start again. This little spring would have been so helpful then, plus it would also help increase hand strength!
The scissors were a little awkward for my children to use at first, you have to slide the paper in so it is level with the protective shield, but then it will cut as other scissors do. When cutting far into a paper, the part of the shield near the red handle is so thick that it makes it difficult to slide the scissors further into a deep cut in the paper. But for most young children learning to use scissors, that won't be an issue at all.
Older children were able to figure out how to use the scissors easily, but also find them very awkward. My 4th grader says they make it hard to see where to cut. The paper has to be perfectly level in the scissors or the blades just slide together and make the paper fold, rather than cut.
Our preschooler friend - M showed him how to use them and then he was able to cut paper easily. He preferred not to use the spring. Scissors are not a new thing to him though.
Our little toddler friend has used scissors many times in the past. Trying to use these was frustrating for her at first. M had to help her figure out every step, from putting the paper in the right way, to opening and closing the blades. She had a hard time cutting with the spring engaged, but it was helpful for opening the blades up. But she also had a hard time opening the blades when the spring was disengaged. After she used them for a bit, she liked them more. However, M feels like she would probably pick regular scissors over these if given the choice.
After observing my children and our friend's children, M and I both feel like these scissors would work better for children who have never used scissors before. They are nice and sharp so they work quite well, some safety scissors are not like that, but the protective shield is cumbersome and in the way. They might also be useful for children who cut things they should not, but any paper or clothing is still going to fit into the cutting area of these.
These can be found on The Pencil Grip, Inc. website, or through the links below:
The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors
The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit